After the incredibly surprising results of 2016, 2018 followed the script laid out by pollsters and prognosticators: Democrats narrowly retook the House of Representatives, the Republicans reinforced their lead in the Senate. In California, the results were also predictable, with Gavin Newsom elected governor and a slate of Democrats taking almost every other statewide office, along with 2/3 super-majorities in both houses of the Legislature.
The impact of these elections on the pro-life cause could potentially range from the positive to the disastrous. Here are the main points to consider:
- There is a pro-life majority in the Senate. On the national level, this is an enormous development. This election featured several red-state Democrats who were facing tough reelection bids. All of them lost their seats except for Joe Manchin from West Virginia (the only Democrat to vote for Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination), and John Tester from Montana. As of this writing, the Republicans look likely to gain 3 seats and increase their majority to 53-47, with reliably pro-life senators in the majority 51-49. This majority will make it simple for the President and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to get excellent federal judges confirmed without needing to rely on people with more inconsistent views on abortion. Furthermore, if another Supreme Court vacancy opens in the next two years, President Trump could fill it with another Justice likely to overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
- There is a pro-choice majority in the House. There are a number of important legislative advances pro-lifers failed to achieve in the last two years of Republican majority rule, including the Conscience Protection Act, a repeal of the pro-life provisions of Obamacare, the defunding of Planned Parenthood, and the defunding of federal embryo-destructive stem cell research. Those legislative efforts are effectively over, at least for the next two years. With Nancy Pelosi or some other Democrat in the Speaker’s chair, efforts by the House Bipartisan Pro-Life Caucus will go effectively nowhere.
- President Trump Must Make Strides. With the loss of the House, there are far fewer avenues for President Trump to make pro-life advances. The two areas he needs to focus on are judges and regulation. The President has done incredible work in conjunction with the Senate, confirming 84 federal judges in his first two years in office (two of whom are Supreme Court justices). This needs to continue at the same aggressive pace. Furthermore, the president has still not corrected the Obama-era funding policies for embryo-destructive stem cell research, which wastes $200 million taxpayer dollars every year on immoral and irresponsible research that results in the destruction of human life. He could and should restrict this funding on his own, without Congressional assistance.
- California is in deep trouble. The election of Gavin Newsom is not simply a continuation of Jerry Brown’s policies—it likely signals something worse. It is important to note that Jerry Brown was occasionally willing to buck the pro-choice lobby when he thought their efforts infringed on other rights, or were too expensive. Last year, he vetoed a bill banning pro-life religious employers from enforcing codes of conduct regarding abortion for employees, and just two months ago he vetoed a bill requiring chemical abortion to be distributed on CSU and UC campuses. Gavin Newsom, on the other hand, has indicated no such restraint, and is likely to sign aggressively pro-abortion legislation into law. Furthermore, Newsom has far less fiscal restraint than Brown, which could result in large government programs to further fund abortion on demand through public healthcare programs. Now that the abortion lobby has a more compliant governor, they may try to enact legislation similar to that passed in Oregon last year, which provides full public funding for any abortion. It also seems likely that the Legislature will consider legislation to further expand legalized assisted suicide during 2019.